Living Planet: The Story of Survival on Planet Earth

Welbeck. Oct. 2021. 96p. Tr $14.95. ISBN 9781783127849.
Gr 4-6–Big, beautiful nature photographs steal the show in this survey of our planet’s history, geology, and biosphere, though the 13 short videos embedded in select pages—viewable in place or full screen through a smartphone or other device by means of a free app—offer likewise beguiling glimpses of an erupting volcano, penguins positively zipping through Antarctic waters, an otter nuzzling her offspring on her chest, and more. De la Bédoyère’s snoozy, drab narrative is the weak link, as rather than going for the gusto, it tends toward platitudes and eye-glazing generalities: “Unlike plants, animals need to eat food,” “Seeds need to leave the plant and find a new place to grow,” “Many lakes, rivers, and wetlands are in danger of drying up.” Still, along with being taken on a grand tour of the panoply of mostly macroscopic life and of our own human history, not to mention weather, climate change, agriculture, and our planet’s range of landforms and habitats, readers will get good exposure to the important message that Earth is a wonderful but in many ways fragile home, to be conserved as well as cherished.
VERDICT Unusually broad in scope, and though budding naturalists in elementary grades may be justly tempted to skip the text, the interactive visuals should prove a strong draw.

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